Architects’ Josh Middleton has just designed a radical new ESP body shape – and it’s the most metal guitar we’ve seen for quite some time

Josh Middleton's ESP custom shop guitar
(Image credit: Josh Middleton/Instagram)

Sylosis and Architects virtuoso Josh Middleton has taken to social media to show off his latest custom shop ESP electric guitar – and it’s caused quite a stir among six-string fans.

Why? Well, because it features a radical ESP body shape that Middleton himself drew back in 2020, and, perhaps more importantly, it might just be one the most metal guitars we’ve seen in quite a while.

According to Middleton, he’s had to wait two years for his ESP come to life, with the Architects axeman paying special thanks to ESP's Tony Rauser – who also designed 2022’s LTD lineup – for his latest six-string.

Though Middleton himself drew the design, the guitar wears its influences on its sleeve. Those familiar with metal guitars will immediately draw links to the BC Rich Stealth – a model favored by the late Chuck Schuldiner, and later reimagined as the BC Rich Chuck, which features a similar four-point design.

Middleton’s design, though, is ever-so-slightly more angular, with a sharper upper horn and more prominent end-points at the extremities.

It seems as though the BC Rich Stealth wasn’t the only guitar Middleton had in mind when he designed his as-yet-unnamed creation. It also carries a faint whiff of the EVH Stripe Series Star – though, again, that upper horn above the fretboard is uniquely angled – as well as Dimebag Darrell’s favored Dean ML.

Other similarly styled six-strings that immediately spring to mind include Jackson’s X Series Warrior and, as an outside wildcard shout, Rob Cavestany’s Pro Series Death Angel signature guitar.

Whatever it is, it’s certainly got our attention, though since it’s a custom shop creation, the jury’s out over whether Middleton’s ultra-pointy sidepiece will be made into a standard-run signature model.

Still, stranger things have happened, and if it ever did get a production release it would make quite the companion to Middleton’s existing ESP LTD JM-II signature model, which is far more tame in its body shape aesthetics.

Middleton has also hinted he’s got another ESP custom shop guitar on the way, and if this one is anything to go by, it’s bound to be another beauty.

To get a glimpse of the guitar when Middleton gets his hands on it, head over to his Instagram page.

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Matt Owen

Matt is a Staff Writer, writing for Guitar World, Guitarist and Total Guitar. He has a Masters in the guitar, a degree in history, and has spent the last 16 years playing everything from blues and jazz to indie and pop. When he’s not combining his passion for writing and music during his day job, Matt records for a number of UK-based bands and songwriters as a session musician.